Feature

Rain on a Tin Roof

God's love pours down

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We had just come back from a late night swim and were getting ready for bed in the old house I grew up in, when it started to rain. Our group was in Pano for a weekend excursion, part of the Quito ’08 conference. This place in the jungles of Ecuador was where my parents ministered. As I lay in the attic of my childhood home listening to the steady rain on the tin roof, thoughts of the past started flooding back.

Raining Memories

My parents and oldest sister, Terrilynn, moved to Pano on February 26, 1963. They ministered among the Quichua Indians there, with Dad using his canoe to explore and evangelize villages along the Napo River, a tributary of the Amazon. Mom and Dad’s ministry was well established by the time my other sisters and I came along.

I have fond memories of growing up and playing with my Indian friends. Bathing and swimming in the river were highlights. Running barefoot on gravel roadways, as if they were velvet blades of grass, caused our feet to become hard and calloused. Climbing lime and lemon trees and swinging from the branches was always fun. But the best part was eating all the exotic foods we could get our hands on. At the end of a busy day, the tranquilizing sound of rain on that tin roof put my sisters and me right to sleep.

A Torrent of Heartache

Jim and Pano childrenIn our life walk, God takes us on a path that shows His character and helps us grow. On September 4, 1972, my dad suffered a heart attack and went home to be with Jesus. Being such a youngster when this happened, I never really got the chance to know him. My mom stayed on the mission field and with God’s help raised four kids. Exactly 15 years to the day from Dad’s death, she accidentally stepped off a mountain cliff and into the presence of her Lord and Savior.

Even though I didn’t have my dad to do things with or to lead and instruct me in the way I should go, there were plenty of friends and fellow missionaries who did help me in that way.

It seems I miss my parents more now that I am older, especially during those times of major decision making. I am always wondering what sort of advice they would have given me; it would be desirable to have them here to learn from. However, God’s desire is not mine, and He has directed my focus around another bend to a time and place not far off where there will be a reunion like no other.

Obviously, God chooses different courses for people, but make no mistake: He will lead you through situations that are painful, challenging and exhilarating to mold you into the person He wants you to be. Having lost both of my parents, I realized that the only one I could trust in and lean on for support was my Heavenly Father. It can be extreme, sobering and at the same time breathtaking, just like a deluge on a tin roof. When you allow God to work in your life, He can do amazing things.

A Steady Rhythm

Everyone has a story to tell. I am just now realizing this, and it has taken me a long time to get to the point where I am able to share mine. For most of my life I didn’t think my story was important, especially when growing up as a missionary kid and going to a missionary school. We all shared much of the same experiences of leaving home and staying in a boarding school. We all knew each other, so why tell each other how we really felt?

In college it was harder than I expected, because when I tried to share my story, there were those who really didn’t care. So I kept it all inside. God showed me compassion through my experiences, and He has allowed me to convey my story to others going through similar situations, telling them what Jesus has done and is doing in my life. Whether it’s a crisis or something to celebrate, share your story with someone today and see the impact it has on both of you!

No matter where we are in life—overwhelming financial demands, bad news from the doctor, being laid off of work, or a failing marriage—laying all these circumstances at the feet of Jesus allows Him to carry our burdens and gives us freedom. That is why God sent His Son to earth: to seek and save those who are lost, to bear an excruciating death on the cross and to conquer death when He rose from the grave. We now have the power in Jesus’ Name to renounce Satan and his schemes. God’s love is a steady rhythm, growing ever louder as He rains down peace and comfort on the tin roof of your heart. A beautiful sound!

Living Water

Jim and the school's directorRefreshed after a rain-on-a-tin-roof induced sleep, my Quito ’08 group joined with the Indians in painting the Pano church. Mid-morning, with paint brushes and rollers leaning against the walls, we were privileged to observe a typical jungle wedding. Later, I took the group to Dad’s grave site and shared my family’s story. Eventually, we made our way to the school, which is named after him.

I had been to Pano many times to visit but had never experienced what I did on that weekend excursion. Seeing this beautiful jungle village through the eyes of the Quito ’08 group members was extraordinary. Watching the fruits of my parents’ ministry and seeing me in my childhood home made them consider important questions: “Could I leave everything behind and come live in a place like this?” “Could I raise my child in this environment?” “Am I willing to sacrifice my life for people I’ve never met?” I realized that I do have an awesome legacy!

A photograph was taken that day that will be forever imprinted on my mind. It is of me and the Pano children standing by my dad’s grave, a symbol of the next generation continuing what God has started—for all tribes, peoples, tongues and nations to know and worship Him!

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